REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake Goalkeeper David Ochoa Remains Mysteriously Absent
SALT LAKE CITY – What a strange season it has been for Real Salt Lake to date. They find themselves near the top of the conference but have played the majority of the opening 15 games without their captain and on the road more often than not.
David Ochoa is not the main man in between the sticks, either. Who would have thought? After years of fans pleading with the coaching staff to play Ochoa as a first-team member, Ochoa was granted that chance last year and starred at just 20 years old. But as is so often the case in professional sports, when a player gets injured there is no guarantee that the position will still be available upon that player’s return.
In the final preseason game against Portland, Ochoa left the pitch with an injury. Enter Zac MacMath.
“I was entering this season with the mindset of being the backup but when David [Ochoa] went down in that final preseason game my mentality shifted and I quickly turned to making the most out of the opportunity,” MacMath told reporters weeks ago.
MacMath has been a revelation for Real Salt Lake in 2022. But sadly, his heroics are not headlining the minds of the Real Salt Lake faithful. The unknown absence of Ochoa remains far too concerning.
MacMath has been a wonderful player for Real Salt Lake regardless of his role with the club. As a starter, he has performed admirably, and as a backup, he has given his all to push for starting minutes while encouraging his teammates to improve on the daily. MacMath has showcased the mental fortitude capable of handling all roles within the professional sporting space. For that, he has earned every second in between the sticks.
Manager Pablo Mastroeni has been careful with his choice of words whenever asked about Ochoa but has hinted at potential reasons for the Mexican international’s absence.
Ochoa is training and playing with the Real Monarchs, and has most recently been with the Mexican National Team for Nations League fixtures, he is no longer injured. Ochoa is healthy and able to help Real Salt Lake win. So why is he not even making the bench on gamedays?
Hello there, David Ochoa! 🧤🔥⚽️#HechoDeLosMexicanos | #FMFporNuestroFútbol pic.twitter.com/QJRoXsPZUD
— Mexican National Team (@miseleccionmxEN) June 14, 2022
The answer is yet to be made public. The club, nor Ochoa have made any statement regarding what is going on behind closed doors. But some have speculated that Ochoa does not have the desire to push for the starting goalkeeper spot and is not willing to work hard to try and regain his post.
The only minutes seen by Ochoa in 2022 came when he started and played the entire game against Northern Colorado Hailstorm in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup that saw Real Salt Lake upset 1-0. Ochoa was not responsible for the concession during that game, but when he needed to make a save, he came up short.
With Ochoa’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, it seems somewhat likely that Ochoa is going to leave the club at the end of the year. If he does, he will leave on a free and all of the work put in by the club to develop Ochoa will not be rewarded, sadly. Reports have also surfaced that multiple clubs in Europe and Mexico are interested in the services of Ochoa.
At some point, the club or Ochoa will have to answer some questions. Ochoa is too talented to be sidelined while healthy, the truth inevitably will be told and the fanbase will be able to judge for themselves where it all went wrong.
But for now, the fanbase must hold their collective breath as they continue to wait for news regarding their beloved goalkeeper.
Real Salt Lake will return to the pitch on June 18 when they host San Jose Earthquakes at Rio Tinto Stadium.
As always, the match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.
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